Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Times is not right

So this is my first post since I got back in town and it's kind of U.S. Open-related, but it also deals with a little pet peeve of mine.

First, if you couldn't tell by now, I'm a big tennis geek! What can I say? Following career stats of players is kind of a hobby. Aside from that, in my alter ego, I work as a professional copy editor for a magazine (I'm managing editor for HFN, plus I do freelance copy editing for a newspaper, The Journal News). I like to think that I can spot something that might be wrong, particularly in tennis-related stories.

Today, I'm reading The New York Times' coverage of the Open, and I couldn't believe what I saw in a feature on Marat Safin and Dinara Safina, And I quote: "Marat Safin, 28, the once incandescent and later insufferable older brother came to revive his career, having failed to advance past the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament in more than three years."

Ummm, aside from Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer playing one of the greatest matches of all time this past Wimbledon, what was the second-biggest story of the tournament? Oh yeah, Safin making the semis!

Then, in the same quote-unquote Paper of Record, there was a story about Ana Ivanovic and Serena Williams, and their first-round matches. In it, there was a mention that Serena's won seven Grand Slam titles. Ummm, again, at my last count, it was eight, and just in case I had any doubt, Wikipedia and the WTA's Web site confirms it.

Now here's my pet peeve: What happens most of the time during Major tournaments, newspapers often tap beat writers whose sports are off-season to help with the coverage. And unfortunately, because tennis is considered so little a priority to the majority of readers, fact-checking is neglected and stories are underwritten or extremely overwritten, like the above Safin story I mentioned. What happens, too, is that the stories then get picked up by the wire services and the incorrect info gets spread around.

And this happens all the time, especially around the U.S. Open, which provides the opportunity for more domestic reporting.

So next time you see a tennis story written by a name you don't recognize, or you do recognize it, say as a beat reporter covering insert city and mascot here, be careful. You can't always believe what you read, as the old saying goes.

P.S. If you're looking for the above-mentioned error about Safin, you won't find it on the Times' site, as it has an abbreviated version of the story. Hmmm...

(Photo: Getty Images)


The Tennis Hacker said...

It's funny...there was actually a typo in that story where Murat, the brother, was referred to as 'her'. That aside and your pet peeve notwithstanding, I actually like the Times, it is the one newspaper trying hardest to be relevant on the net. (Nice inside info about your career.)

van said...

Hey, TH! I saw an "n" missing out of the word "and" in the Federer story, too. What's going on out there?

Copy editing's not a bad gig; I have trouble editing my own stuff sometimes, but when I see what others have written, my eyes naturally go on the lookout for stuff.

Steve said...

I know exactly what you mean. We have the same thing with Wimbledon. Suddenly there's wall to wall coverage even though for the other 50 weeks of the year tennis is a second tier sport for most of the papers with some tournaments getting next to no coverage.

So when we have the Wimbledon media over drive I always have mixed emotions. It's so good to have indepth coverage and yet part of me is irritated with the fair weather friends. No pleasing some people!

Hope you have tickets for next week


Shelia said...

This is why those of us who love the sport have blogs Van! We do it for the love of tennis and its players. The very ill-informed non-caring people that write this type of buffoonery couldn't care less.